Mud-mapping is under way for a building in Peel Street that it's hoped will be a heritage gem in 100 years' time.
It's Tamworth's performing arts centre and, in an exclusive interview with the Leader, the architect has revealed how the building could look, what it will contain and what "vibe" it will have.
Virginia Ross, of Williams Ross Architects, presented her vision to the council's project control group this week, and will now sketch out "how would we best fit all those facilities on that site on Peel Street?"
The proposed centre is part of the region's Keychange 2017-2027 Community Strategic Plan, and it's hoped it will join the art gallery and library precinct within the next few years.
Ms Ross, theatre consultant Craig Gamble and arts management consultant Rob Gebert have been engaged to investigate and plan the form, function and financials.
The group now hopes to have all consultants' reports by July, entertainment venues manager Peter Ross said.
"It's such a complex, visionary project, but it will be great; it will be a game-changer for the region."
One of Ms Ross's tasks is to figure out what will go where in the building, which will house theatres, rehearsal rooms, the conservatorium of music, the ABC radio studios, a cafe, a shop and a possibly rooftop function centre.
"The building itself is close to 9000 square metres in floor area, so it's a big and complex building and it will certainly have to be ... three or four storeys," Ms Ross said.
Projections are the centre could contain up to 1400 staff, performers, crew and public in its busiest times, likely to be during the festival.
"Businesses will get the benefit of not only visitors coming to see shows but the actual touring companies who come to put the shows on," Ms Ross said.
She said it would be an "expensive and complicated building", citing the acoustics alone as a real challenge.
"These buildings have very high levels of acoustic treatment in them ... so that you don't get sound leakage - either to other venues beside you or above or below you, or to outside."
Even heating and cooling had to be taken into account.
The building would need "relatively large volumes of air pumped around at low speed ... so you don't get noisy airconditioning in the middle of the death scene".
Although it's very early days, Ms Ross said one of the guiding principles was making the venue both intriguing and welcoming.
"People need to see the life and activity going on inside, and they need to be intrigued and want to go in to explore it," she said.
"And also, they don't want to be daunted or feel like it's some elite cultural monument, so it wants to be ... very inviting and very easy to enter."
She said the focus of activity could be the foyer, which needs to service the centre, art gallery and library to connect all the arts spaces.
"What we want is for as many public activities to be focused on that frontage as possible ... it's about making that a very busy, active frontage to the building, and possibly also linking back through to the back of the site, because for many people they may arrive at the building at the back if they're parking ... not everyone enters a building like this from the street front door."
The look - and the future
She imagines a large part of the facade to be glass-walled, including the foyer, which - with all the various comings and goings of audiences, performers, students, teachers and more - would be "a real people-watching experience".
Also, she said: "Wouldn't it be wonderful if the ABC studios were actually visible from the street, so you can actually see what's going on? Because they're intriguing spaces."
Ms Ross said "most regional towns have - or aspire to have - a theatre of this sort in the town."
"It'll become, hopefully, a heritage building in 100 years' time ... If it's done properly, there's no reason why this facility shouldn't be completely adequate for the next 100 years, subject to keeping it in good nick."